Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why try?


I had a very up and down day that I can't really talk about because, well, I just can't.  But at the end of the day, I was really relating to Christopher Walken, "Why Try Harder". 

This morning I was hit with some very tough news, only to find that the problem had resolved itself by the end of the day, but only when I had to given in somewhat regarding my philosophical standards.  While I went home this afternoon very happy that it was resolved, I talked to my wife during dinner and realized that I'm giving too much to a situation that is not wanting much of a return.  I'm not going to beg kids to adopt higher standards when parents and society don't seem to find the value in those higher standards.  I'm watching teachers and administrators work their collective asses off to create an environment that is conducive to academia, and for what?  So we can cut high end classes because 20 students is too little for one teacher?  So we can watch our school suffer because our "sub-groups" decided not to show up for test that means nothing to them?  So the community can put more emphasis on Homecoming Week than STAR testing week?  So we can wonder if we'll have music or sports art or anything else that is relevant to kids at this moment?  Well guess what, it's draining.  It's draining on admin, it's draining on teachers, and it will flow right down to students because we are not getting help from the most important group.....society. 

Today I was told a quote that I think I had resisted hearing for years, and I was fortunate to selectively ignore it.  The quote was this,

"We can deal with the philosophical aspect of the situation or reality.  One is nice but isn't going to matter much right now.  We have to deal in reality and the reality is .......".

It was a sad moment where I felt like something in me just toppled.  Maybe my pollyanish image of teaching got a serious limb hacked off or something.  Whatever it was, it made feel defeated, even after I got the result that I wanted.  It simply seems like too much work against the tidal wave of society that walks into your classroom with a mandate, and on the way out takes one of the tools necessary to complete the task.

I'm dejected and I'm tired, and it's only the third day.  I work too hard.  I give everything to the kids. I created two new classes including one AP in which I had very good scores.  I coach tons of extra hours.  I take kids on field trips.  I take kids to conferences.  I love my job and I'm passionate that it is very important and meaningful, and that it does good.

Society does not share in my passion, and that is just beating me up right now.  I'll shake it off eventually.  I have to, because I have to teach.

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